Emma Ruttkamp-Bloem


Emma Ruttkamp-Bloem is professor and head of the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria. She is the coordinator of the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence Research Group at the Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR) in South Africa, and co-chair of the Steering Committee for the Southern African Conference for AI Research (SACAIR).

She has a PhD in Philosophy in the domains of mathematical logic and the philosophy of science. Her thesis focused on formulating a mathematical model-theoretic analysis of the structure of scientific theories. Currently, she works on themes in the philosophy of technology relating to human-technology relations, and in AI ethics on themes in machine ethics, the ethics of social robotics, and data ethics. She also does research on technology-related policy making, and focuses on generating culturally sensitive policies for trustworthy AI technologies, while aiming for global regulation. In the philosophy of science, her work is centred on debates in scientific realism, the structure of scientific theories, and the status of machine learning-based methodologies in the discovery/justification debate in the philosophy of science. Her research in both the ethics of artificial intelligence and the philosophy of science includes application of non-classical formal logics to selected problems.

Prof Ruttkamp-Bloem is a corresponding member of the International Academy for the Philosophy of Science. She has been the elected South African representative at the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology (IUHPST) since 2014. She is an associate editor of the Journal for Science and Engineering Ethics, a member of the editorial board of Springer’s respected Synthese Library Book Series, and a member of the editorial board of Acta Baltica: Historiae et Philosophiae Scientiarum. She is the founder of the CAIR/UP ‘Artificial Intelligence for Society’ Symposium Series and the ‘South African Logic and Philosophy of Science’ Colloquium Series.

She currently has 6 current PhD, 2 MA, and 2 honours students and has delivered 5 PhD, 9 MA, and 14 Honours students. She is the author of a book in the Springer Synthese Library Series, 15 articles, and 5 book chapters. She has collaborated on 5 intergovernmental policy documents. She has been interviewed on various media platforms such as the Deutsche Welle (Germany), Tortoise Media (UK) and Business Day TV (South Africa), and has recently written an OpEd for the Mail and Guardian on the technology driving inequality, as well as a piece for Acteurs Publics in France.

In her capacity as an AI ethics policy researcher, Prof Ruttkamp-Bloem is a member of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA)-NEPAD Consultative Roundtable on Ethics in Africa, a member of the African Commission Human and People’s Rights Committee (ACHPR) task team working on the Resolution 473 study on Human and Peoples’ Rights and AI, Robotics and other New and Emerging Technologies in Africa, and the rapporteur for the UNESCO World Commission for Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST). She was the chairperson of the Bureau of the UNESCO Ad Hoc Expert Group (AHEG) on the ethics of artificial intelligence tasked to draft the Recommendation for a global instrument on the ethics of AI which was adopted by UNESCO member states after various periods of negotiation in November 2021. She is a current member of the AHEG working on implementing the Recommendation.

In addition, Prof Ruttkamp-Bloem is the South African representative at the Responsible AI Network Africa (RAIN), which is a joint venture of the Technical University Munich and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana. She is a member of the advisory board of the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Programme (Human Sciences) hosted by Umeå University in Sweden; of the advisory board of the Global AI Ethics Institute; and, as country advisor for South Africa, of the advisory board of the International Group of Artificial Intelligence (IGOAI). She is also a member of the advisory board of the international Z-Inspection® network. The Z-Inspection® assessment method for Trustworthy AI is an approach based on the Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI by the European Commission High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence. She is also on the advisory board for SAP GE in Germany. Prof Ruttkamp-Bloem is a collaborator on the IEEE’s (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Strong Sustainability by Design and Accountable Sustainability by Design reports as part of their Planet Positive 2030 Campaign. She is also a collaborating fellow at the International Research Center for AI Ethics and Governance, Chinese Academy of Sciences. She is the co-convener of the Ethics Working Group at their AI for Atoms Technical Meeting in 2021 at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as well as at future IAEA-ITU events. Finally, she is a member of the GAIA (Global AI Association) Think Tank on Compassionate AI.

University of Pretoria
  • CSIR
  • DSI
  • Covid-19